Vivid Audio Kaya 45 floorstanding loudspeaker

Vivid Audio Kaya 45

All the drive units on Vivid loudspeakers are made in house, a very unusual state of affairs for a relatively small company. They were designed by Dickie for the very first models and have evolved since that time using catenary rather than hemispherical domes for the midrange and tweeter and dust cap free cones for bass drivers, all in aluminium. The most recent upgrade is to the magnet systems on the bass drivers in the Giya range; this consists of a rearrangement of the steel whereby the magnet sits right next to the voice coil in order to reduce non-linearities in the behaviour of the magnetic field.

This design of magnet was used first in the bass drivers of the Giya G1 but was later applied to the low mid in the G1 Spirit range topper, so the fact that the same combination is also used in a Kaya 45 makes it something of a bargain. Unlike the four-way Giya this range consists of two- and three-way designs, the Kaya 45 is of the latter persuasion with a 100mm midrange driver having to reach up to the 3kHz crossover point with the tweeter. By 3kHz the midrange driver’s output is beginning to beam or narrrow in dispersion, so the dimple or waveguide for the tweeter is designed to match the dispersion of the two drives by approximating the shape of the mid-cone.

As with all Vivid floorstanders the bass cones are arranged in a reaction cancelling arrangement by virtue of a brace between the motor systems of the two 125mm bass drivers. The tapered tube absorber on the bass system is achieved with a baffle placed within the cabinet that is invisible from the outside. What you can see is a pair of reflex ports one either side and a pair of terminals at the bottom; on our early sample these, connections were right underneath the speaker in typical Vivid style which, while it looks good, makes setting them up a bit of a malarkey, so the move to accessible terminals is a bonus. To minimise the likelihood of tipping, the Kaya 45 has no fewer than six feet and is supplied with high quality spikes and flat feet for more sensitive floors, although getting so many feet evenly weighted might be tricky without spikes.

I have reviewed a good few Vivid designs over the last ten or 15 years and feel like I have got used to their unusually relaxed character, yet as there is at least a year and quite a few other speakers between my Vivid experiences it always takes a little while to come to terms with just how effortless they are. The balance could be described as smooth but that’s because these speakers don’t exhibit the sort of colourations or distortions that you encounter in so many other speakers. The cabinets are both low in weight and highly resistant to vibration so they don’t add their own characteristics to the overall sound, the result is music that escapes the ‘boxes’ with so much ease that you merely have to close your eyes and they disappear. With a good recording it’s nearly impossible to point to each one with any degree of accuracy. I find that if my eyes close when listening it’s a very good sign; it means I’m relaxed and able to focus on the music and that’s something the Kaya 45 does extremely well: so well in fact that you can easily be absorbed in an album for far longer than expected.

This happened with Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool[XL], an album from which I usually pick just one track as a point of reference, but here I ended up listening to three or four before my reverie was broken by the phone. It’s one of those recordings with a lot going on both in terms of different sounds and in the way those sounds are projected into the room; this speaker does both exceptionally well. It’s hyper-revealing of detail but in such a calm, effortless way that you are not so much impressed with the sound as you are absorbed by the musical creativity and the way that the music is being performed. Some parts, like the vocals, are centralised or stay within the space between the speakers while others are thrown out to the sides of the room. The transparent nature of the mids and highs means that the presentation is fluid, musical, and coherent. It makes other speakers sound like they are producing sonic outlines, whereas this is an oil painting and not a line drawing.

Tone and timbre are also extremely well rendered, which is a factor of the detail definition, of course. I reviewed an album called Ancient Lightsby Uniting of Opposites [Tru-Thoughts] on them. This has clarinet, double bass, and sitar among a range of acoustic instruments and sounded particularly lush on the Vivids – the clarinet’s lovely woody richness contrasting with the zing of the sitar and the thunk of double bass. The speaker adds not a hint of grain or edginess to the sound so you can play it as loud as you want for as long as you like (neighbours and partners allowing). I also played a bit of Alison Krauss + Union StationLive[Rounder] and got a hologram of the venue when the crowd’s applause comes in, and then the recording homes in on voice and instruments projecting them with extraordinary presence into the room; when that sort of ‘air’ is on the record you will easily hear it with this speaker. That much was apparent with Amandine Beyer’s solo violin [JS Bach Sonatas & Partitas BWV 1001 – 1006, Zig-Zag Territoires]; this usually sounds open and airy but often has an etched quality that fails to expose the full breadth of timbral subtlety that the instrument is capable of. The Kaya 45 allowed the instrument and the large space it was recorded in to be rendered in a more complete fashion than usual, the decay of the space being beautifully preserved around a highly lyrical performance from the violinist.

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